Homoerotic Subtext

Root: Overly affectionate greeting.
Shaw: Greeting.
Root: Transparent rationale for conversation.
Shaw: Annoyed attempt to deflect subtext.
The Machine, summarizing a typical conversation between two female characters, Person of Interest

Though romance is important in many works, bonds of friendship between those of the same sex form some of fiction's most significant relationships. One common method of playing with these close relationships is to portray them similarly to romantic relationships, though the characters may feel nothing sexual for one another. For example, two male friends may bicker in an exaggerated manner, mirroring how television normally depicts husbands and wives, or one friend may voice jealousy of another with lines lovers normally use.

The juxtaposition is often Played for Laughs, especially with male characters. Other such scenes may attempt fanservice, particularly when the characters are the opposite gender of the intended demographic. Rarer, the subtext is Played for Drama, using common romance tropes to heighten the strength of the relationship, although whether this means the writer supports interpretations that the relationship is romantic is usually left ambiguous.

In older media, when there were rules forbidding overt displays of homosexuality, writers who wanted to create gay characters would often resort to homosexual subtext. See also Homoerotic Dream.

This page covers only intentional examples, chiefly those lampshaded by characters, Word of God, laughter or awkward pauses. It does not cover fans' delight at or tendency to view any interactions as gay; for that, see Ho Yay. It also does not cover any Ship Teases or actual homoerotism, where the characters may indeed be gay or bisexual for each other.


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  • Johnny Turbo and Tony have a very peculiar relationship as it stands in the first two comics, but the "sub" part of the subtext goes completely out the window in the third one, "Sleepwalker".

    Anime & Manga 
  • Mahou Sensei Negima!:
  • In Durarara!!, the way Izaya and Shizuo hate each other, the psychological games, constantly moving into each others' personal space, and their rather obsessive loathing - which is a very odd departure for Izaya who 'loves all humans' - tends to be where people stamp Belligerent Sexual Tension on their relationship. While the author is apparently annoyed to some extent by the people who ship it, he has apparently said 'Hell, why not' and put in some subtext in later volumes, and the producers/writers of the anime pushed this into the forefront right off the bat.
  • As an extremely genre savvy shoujo manga, Ouran High School Host Club plays up the homoerotic subtext for both fanservice and laughs. After all, a decent amount of Yaoi Fangirls have to be reading it. It's even invoked in universe when the twins play it up during club activities.
  • The last episode of Seitokai no Ichizon plays it for laughs where the protagonist is doing his best to avoid this as best he can and failing utterly until he finally manages to relax and give the other guy some advice. Curse you, Mafuyu!
  • Axis Powers Hetalia might have some of this — being a comedy that also has a few canon gay couples, it's hard to tell sometimes what is Played for Laughs and what is actual Ship Tease.
  • Persona 4: The Animation:
    • Episode 12 seems to have a lot of this between Yu and Yosuke. Yosuke pulls Yu out of Mitsuo's Shadow's illusion, and they then look each other in the eye while in Jiraiya's arms. At the end of the episode, Yosuke calls Yu by his first name. Episode 19 has some tension during the group date. Yosuke says that he feels he was "about to cross a line that should never be crossed," and searches frantically for a drink.
    • Episode 15 and the Love Hotel, Chie, Yukiko, and Rise in the rotating bed having giggle fits. Something similar happens when Teddie, Yosuke, and Kanji end up in a bed together, except in that case the only one laughing is Teddie.
  • The Sakamichi No Apollon anime (also known as Kids on the Slope) is full of this, specifically between Sentarou and Kaoru. Even though the main characters eventually each have their own female Love Interests, they have an equal amount of Fanservice with each other.
    • Episode 1, the scene when Kaoru first meets Sentarou is blatantly ripped-off from some shoujo manga, complete with the pink background and the line "So, you have come to take me". It is explained later in the manga that Sentarou thought that Kaoru was an angel who've come to take him away in his nap, not helped by how Kaoru has been known as having a 'pretty face' according to Ritsuko (which she corrected into 'handsome' right away).
    • Sentarou and Kaoru constantly bickers in exaggerated manners, even though they actually get along pretty well, as stated by Ritsuko. Kaoru throws a fit when Sentarou agrees to play music with another man! (Rock and roll, no less. The horror!)
    • There are many scenes in which Sentarou has no sense of space around Kaoru, including patting his head or shoulders, trying to share a jacket with him to shelter from rain, or pining him down to his bed in a serious manner, much to Kaoru's surprise. Kaoru once literally states that Sentarou is so good-looking, he sometimes takes his breath away.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion has only half an episode with Kaworu and Shinji and there's a lot of ways in which their interaction can be interpreted. That said, would-be shippers have a lot of material to go on from that mere half-episode - more material than NGE's hetero-pairings put together. Shinji's attraction to Kaworu and denial thereof is clear in the manga, and Kaworu's attraction is made very explicit, but left ambiguous in the anime. Rebuild of Evangelion meanwhile devotes half a movie to the same pairing, and two entire conversations are made to sound like they're talking about making love and not piano playing (which is what they were doing).
  • Berserk: Griffith is one of the few Guts allow to touch him and Griffith is all sorts of jealous towards Guts. Oh and Naked Water Fight. It goes straight into horrifying territory with the Eclipse and the events that lead up to it.
  • Bleach: To say Sui-Feng is attached to her mentor, Yoruichi Shihouin, would be putting it mildly. Though the anime tends to play this up more than the manga does. One Omake has her conspire with Kiyone to try to get nude photos of Yoruichi, while another has her imagine being rescued by her.
  • Highschool of the Dead:
    • In the manga version of the bath scene, Rei was incredulous at the sheer size of Shizuka's boobs and had to see if they were real, by groping her, though the readers don't get to see it. Instead, the next panel shows Saya's reaction, while Shizuka's cries of, "not there! ♥" and "no more! ♥" are seen from just out of frame.
    Saya: [deadpan] It sounds like an H-Game over there....
    • The anime version of the scene differs by showing the audience what Rei's doing. Shizuka is shown bent over the side of the bathtub with Rei fondling her breasts from behind. Though the animation makes it seem that she's doing Shizuka doggy-style, making her breasts appear to be bouncing instead. When Saya looks over her shoulder to see what's going on, her eyes go wide in embarrassment and she quickly turn back around.
    • Two scenes later, Rei is shown fondling Saeko's breasts, who was mindful to squeeze her thighs shut and cup her hands between her legs. It mainly served to prevent the audience from seeing Saeko's crotch, but also made sense in-series, given Shizuka's earlier cries of "not there".
  • While Fai and Kurogane in Tsubasa -RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE- almost pass into Yaoi Guys territory, the genre makes them into one huge Ship Tease because the mangaka love to hear fans scream in frustration.
  • Lupin III: The Columbus Files:
    • The beach scene, where Goemon resuscitates Jigen by giving him mouth-to-mouth. Which Jigen might've had less of a problem with, had Goemon not been stripped down to his fundoshi (it's implied that he'd had to swim out to save Jigen and bring him ashore).
    • In Rosaria's case, she seemed more than a little attached to Fujiko, who was amnesiac at the time. At one point, she jokingly asks Lupin if they can "share" her. Not that those two didn't have subtext before that.
  • Puella Magi Madoka Magica is rife with this, to the point that some fans jokingly refer to the series as "Miserable Lesbians: The Anime". Literally every pair of the five main girls who get some significant interaction have subtext (and for those that don't interact they have spin-off material, like Mami and Kyoko in The Different Story), while Homura/Madoka is constantly taken to the bleeding edge of subtext and text, especially in Rebellion, where their devotion to each other forms the entire plot. The staff are not only aware of this and toss out Ship Tease like candy, but also occasionally reveal that they ship it too.
  • Bubblegum Crisis:
  • Lyrical Nanoha:
  • Monthly Girls' Nozaki-kun
    • While playing a Dating Sim, Nozaki and Mikoshiba begin to wonder if the Bromantic Foil actually has feelings for the protagonist. While the Bromantic Foil is a pretty common character archetype, in real life his one-minded dedication to the protagonist's happiness might seem a little suspect. So Nozaki and Mikoshiba decide to make a Fix Fic where he finally gets a girlfriend of his own so he's not spending all of high school helping out a friend at the cost of himself. They look through the list of girls in the Dating Sim, but once again realize that the only character that makes sense for him as a love interest is the protagonist.
    • Nozaki basically worships the ground Ken walks on because he's so thrilled to have a competent editor. In the process, he's more anxious around him and willing to please than he would be for his girlfriend, if he had one. Sakura is baffled, especially since Ken clearly dislikes him.
  • Maken-ki!: There are subtle and not-so-subtle hints that Takaki and Yuuka may be more than friends:
    • In the manga, they arrived together for the group's vacation to Okino Island, as if they were a couple and during the flashback in chapter 48, Yuuka referred to Takaki as "her important person." While the preface page to chapter 45 plainly shows them engaged in foreplay, while spooning together in lingerie.
    • In the anime, Yuuka is seen groping her during the beach party in episode 13 (they were both drunk). And when Usui was made principal of the school and ordered the girls to bodypaint each other, Yuuka chose Takaki. She paints her midriff, but the overhead camera angle and Takaki's moaning makes it appear she's going down on her.
  • Naruto and Sasuke have this and it's lampshaded often by other characters. There's also the three accidental kisses they had, the Does This Remind You of Anything? moments, the occasional No Sense of Personal Space around each other, and Naruto angsts/thinks quite a bit about Sasuke in Part II.
  • Death Note features a lot of this between L and Light. This is consistent across all adaptations, from the original manga to the drama series.
  • Seraph of the End has a lot of homoerotic subtext, mostly between Mika and Yuu in all its adaptions.
  • Yuri!!! on Ice has plenty characters like this with Yuri/Victor being the most noticeable with the two becoming a official couple.
  • No. 6: Shion and Nezumi's relationship is a subplot in the series.

  • In the Dark Fic Prison Island Break, Sonic and Shadow's husband-wife relationship is very deliberate, with Sonic in the husband role. Their interactions scream Slap-Slap-Kiss, except without the kissing, and Shadow quits complaining when Sonic calls him 'Girlfriend'. As well as the hilarious arguments, there are some very tender moments:
    Sonic: Listen, Shadow-man, we're gonna get out of this place. I know it's possible. And you know what, Shadow? If you're right, and this plan doesn't work... I'm gonna keep trying more plans until we do. All of us.
    Shadow: How do you do that?
    Sonic: Well I just happen to be so awesome and-
    Shadow: Not that, you idiot. The other thing. How do you stay so cheerful? Why don't you just kill yourself and get the pain out of the way? How can you face today, when it's so fucking awful? What do you do to bear it?
    Sonic: Same thing you do, I guess... I look up at the sun every morning. And I race it to tomorrow...
    Shadow: I thought I was the only one...
  • Imperfect Metamorphosis, given that it lampshades everything in the Touhou fandom, inevitably has scores of this. Marisa constantly makes sex jokes regarding her friends, Alice is heavily implied to be crushing on her, Mima casually flirts with Reimu and Reisen, something develops between Rumia and Rin Satsuki, Mystia and Wriggle are Mistaken for Romance, Kaguya and Mokou have their usual Foe Yay, and Yuuka is all but outright stated to be a serial rapist who kept Wriggle as a "pet" for a while.
  • Touhou Ibunshu has characters toss out "I love you"s with abandon, have no hesitation to get intimately close, with Remilia practically seducing Reimu, and have a tendency to end up naked with each other on a common basis. By the final arc the "subtext" part is dropped, with Kaguya and Eirin explicitly stated to have been married for centuries, and by the very end Marisa and Alice are also a couple.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • Top Gun was rife with subtext. Years later, asked if his role in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang was his first gay character, Val Kilmer joked that it was - but only if you don't count Top Gun.
  • X-Men: First Class:
    • According to co-screenwriters Ashley Miller and Zack Stentz in the "Second Genesis" featurette (which was included on the DVD/Blu-Ray release), this movie is essentially a love story between Charles and Erik, with Raven and Hank being the Beta Couple:
      Miller: The story between Charles and Erik is on some level this tragic romance. You gotta arrange the other elements in that way, too.
      Stentz: Yeah, in this case you have Hank and you have Raven who end up being kind of the B-story version of the same thing you're seeing playing out with Charles and Erik. It's the making and breaking of a relationship.
    • In the rare "Magneto the Survivor" featurette, First Class producer Simon Kinberg refers to Professor X's and Magneto's separation as a divorce when he discusses their older counterparts.
      "What I love between Ian [McKellen] and Patrick [Stewart] in X1, 2, 3 is the sense that they're disappointed in each other. They actually wish that the other one would just come back to them, come back to their side, you know, 'we could be so great together.' It really is a post-divorce story. Understanding the origin of their conflict was the thing that was most interesting to me in this film. Understanding the beginning of their political fissure and their emotional fissure."
    • James McAvoy called the movie a "love story" between Xavier and Magneto, even though when pressed for clarification, he admitted they were not gay. The film certainly did concentrate heavily on the two's relationship, and the final scene, in which the two split and their surrogate children chose sides, played out like a couple's divorce.
      McAvoy: It is a little bit of a mini-tragedy that [Xavier] and Magneto don't, you know, have sex and become married and become best friends.
  • X-Men: Apocalypse:
    • Writer Simon Kinberg has said that Apocalypse is the third chapter of a love story between Magneto and Professor X.
      "If First Class was Erik's story and Days of Future Past is Charles' story, then Apocalypse will be both of their stories. The first movie was about Erik becoming empowered. That's the origin story of a man's power. Days of Future Past is about a guy who is a mess, masterminding the end of this massive movie. So they are both at their peak powers at the start of Apocalypse, so Apocalypse for me is the culmination of that three-act love story."
    • Kinberg later adds that when Erik calls Charles by his professor title for the first time in the movie series, it's a sign of respect and love which is greater than "old friend" because in the Alternate Timeline, Xavier is less pacifistic than in the original timeline.
      Simon Kinberg: 'I feel a great swell of pity for the poor soul looking for trouble.' The way that James said that line, to me, it's almost a Magneto delivery. It's a threat. And there's a response from Fassbender where he gives a little smile. And the little smile to me, that I read that smile and Michael and I talked about that smile, the smile was Magneto understanding Charles has learnt my lesson. That's a militant Charles Xavier. Erik says, 'Good luck, professor.' It's the first time he ever called Charles 'professor.' And it sort of shows respect that I found it really beautiful that Michael said it subtly loving.
    • While promoting Apocalypse at SDCC, James McAvoy summarized his charater's love-hate relationship with Erik (and Michael Fassbender agrees).
      McAvoy: It's that thing in a love story where you don't always like the person you're in love with, but you still love them. Charles and Erik always hated the way [the other] approached things. It's like, "Argh, he's always wanting to kill the humans! He's always going about the same old shit," and yet I just love the guy. I can't kill him, I don't want to mind-control him, I love him.
      Fassbender: That's right.
  • Gore Vidal claims to have inserted homoerotic subtext into the script of Ben-Hur, treating two male characters as former lovers. The characters otherwise appear straight, and Charlton Heston later claimed complete ignorance of the subtext. (Heston's ignorance was a case of Enforced Method Acting. Vidal told Stephen Boyd privately to act as if his character was in love with Ben Hur.)
  • I Love You, Man tried to sell itself as "the first bromantic comedy." It covered the start and development of a male friendship much how other movies might a romance, and largely not as a parody.
  • A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 2: Freddy's Revenge is an odd case. After its release many people noted its strange homosexual subtext. Years later the scriptwriter revealed that he intentionally added these elements to the story, but the entire rest of the production crew, the director included, simply never noticed. Robert Englund has gone on record saying that he thinks that Freddy in this film represents Jesse's repressed homosexual desires. Mark Patton (who played Jesse) came out as openly homosexual after the film was released, and thinks that his self-doubts about his sexuality at the time when the movie was shot carried over into his performance.
  • The Ruthless guide to '80s action movies straight-out acknowledges the "hidden gayness" of '80s action movies and elaborates on it in detail. Top scorers are, of course, Top Gun, Commando and Red Heat.
  • Betty Buckley has said that, in the 1976 version of Carrie, she played the gym teacher Miss Collins as a lesbian in order to invoke this in her interactions with Carrie.
  • Original drafts of Hot Fuzz had a love interest for Angel named Victoria. When the character was removed, much of her dialogue was given intact to Danny, leading to lots of subtext, which was then consciously played for laughs. When the writers and actors discovered Hot Fuzz Slash Fic, they were amused, and even started tweeting their own Hot Fuzz slash fanfiction.
    Edgar Wright (via Twitter): We wrote some Nicholas Angel and Danny Butterman slash fiction. It was called Hot Fuzz...
    Commenter: You do realize this counts as canon to us now?
  • Between Ripley and Call in Alien: Resurrection, which Word of God says was intentional.
  • There are some serious guy-love vibes in Pain and Gain.
  • Along with tight action sequences, the homoerotic subtext is half the point of So Close
  • Almost all of Kevin Smith's films in the The View Askewniverse especially revolve around two men and their very close friendships. Some of these films (like Chasing Amy between the protagonist and his male best friend) openly portray it as attraction, but most leave it as subtext. He acknowledged that he would put some of this content in his films as Fanservice directed at gay people.
  • Judd Apatow's films, either the ones he produces or directs, usually star two male companions who act as though they have a secret crush on one another. His are considered to be the pioneering "bromance" films, and were later hit with some controversy over whether or not this presented emotional men sympathetically or as just another Gay joke.
  • Foxcatcher adds in subtext that March Schultz and John Du Pont have a twisted sexual relationship going on. This ranges from seemingly insignificant things like Mark frequently being shirtless around John to rather questionable scenes - such as a late-night wrestling practice, and Mark giving John an Intimate Haircut. The real Mark Schultz took exception to this implication and slammed the film, before calming down after a while.

  • Oscar Wilde:
  • In the Doctor Who Eighth Doctor Adventures book Fear Itself, Anji, via some Skype-like technology, "walks in on" Fitz and the Doctor having what initially looks like an intimate moment, although actually the Doctor is injured and Fitz is tending to him. She jokes that maybe she should Leave the Two Lovebirds Alone. The whole series quickly became an exercise in how homoerotic Fitz and Eight could get without the censors catching on. When it turned out that the censors didn't even care much, the attraction between them became much more blatant and (after a few dozen books) turned into snogging, naughty dreams, and Fitz' inner monologues about how he wanted to get laid by the Doctor.
  • Fight Club was all about this, according to Chuck Palahniuk: an attempt to see how far he could push Homoerotic Subtext and not offend the manly men who read it.
  • In Jeeves and Wooster, after Bertie has ended an argument with Jeeves:
    I felt like one of those chappies in the novels who calls off the fight with his wife in the last chapter and decides to forget and forgive.
  • In Psmith in the City, after Mike gets moved out of Psmith's department, Psmith is deeply mournful and even quotes a song about lost love (the lyrics slightly altered to fit the situation).
  • Redfern Jon Barrett's The Giddy Death of the Gays and the Strange Demise of Straights focuses on the relationship between roommates Dom and Richard, who become increasingly romantic despite the unwavering heterosexuality of each.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Friends:
    • In multiple episodes, Joey and Chandler have conversations about completely innocent subjects that sound exactly like those a couple would have. In one episode, Joey tells Chandler they should buy a new table for the apartment and Chandler worries it is "too soon". He starts talking about how things went when he brought furniture with his old roommate Kip, aggravating Joey ("I know all about Kip!"), who later asks Chandler if Kip was "better than me".
    • In one episode, a conversation between Rachel and Monica about the fact that Monica has been shopping with Julie (Ross' girlfriend at the time) sounds exactly as if Monica has cheated on Rachel. Of course, From a Certain Point of View, it is true. She's done something meaningful with Rachel's rival.
    • In the first episode of Joey, he frustratedly tells his sister "Chandler and me were not a gay couple!"
  • In Boston Legal, Alan and Denny would often joke about their relationship as if it were a sexual one. The nods came in almost every episode, and they even ended up dancing together once. In the final episode, they actually married each other, still maintaining a platonic relationship.
  • Seinfeld:
    • Jerry Seinfeld's favorite episode portrayed the rise and fall of one of Jerry's friendships like the start and end of a romance. The two-parter was called "The Boyfriend."
    • "The Outing" deliberately played up all the subtext between Jerry and George when a reporter mistakes them for a couple after they act the way they always act in front of her. It doesn't hurt that them being closeted gay men would make a lot of sense (especially George).
  • Full House starred three men living together in San Francisco, and some early viewers thought the characters Jesse and Joey were a gay couple. This quickly proved not to be the case, but the show did have some fun with the idea. In one episode, the two tried to bathe a baby, and one ended up singing a love song to the other rather than to the baby. A third character walked in, and this was a case of Innocent Innuendo — until he left with the baby and the two chose to stay in the tub together and the song resumed. A few seasons later, the two worked together and tried to convince their boss to let them work from home, saying, "Joey and I... we have a baby together."
  • House has this in egregious amounts, mainly between House, the Doctor Jerk, and Wilson, his loyal Lancer and only real friend. Most of the time it's hard to point a finger at it though, because with House's personality, any of the sexually loaded comments (including some of the "I'm so gay for you" and "will you marry me" sort) could, and most likely are, just sarcasm so thick it's impossible to say what House actually means. Wilson, again, has learned to sometimes pay House back with the same thing. And in the end, the only thing actually happening between them is friendship and constant teasing; both have heterosexual interests and relationships/activity of their own.
  • Raj and Howard from The Big Bang Theory, to the point where Leonard's mother asks when they're going to express their latent homosexual feelings for one another. They even virtually make out.
  • Teen Wolf:
    • Stiles is very interested in whether or not he's attractive to gay guys, and asks both Scott and Danny whether they find him attractive. And Derek Hale does not care for anyone's personal boundaries.
    • Scott pins Danny down and smells him during lacrosse practice, Derek really enjoys pinning Stiles to walls, and the males in this series are just really really touchy-feely. Scott seems utterly unfazed by Stiles coming in his window, hanging off his roof, etc.
    Stiles: (to Scott) Do you enjoy hurting me?
  • Scrubs is overflowing with bromance between Turk and JD, up to and including a duet between the two called "Guy Love" in the musical episode in season 6.
  • The Daily Show and The Colbert Report has this between Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert. The actors deliberately play it up in their characters.
  • How I Met Your Mother:
    • Mainly with Barney, Ted, and Marshall (in any combination of the three), though Lily and Robin have their moments, too (it's canon that Lily has some sort of sexual interest in Robin, possibly a nod to Alyson Hannigan playing a lesbian character in Buffy the Vampire Slayer).
    • In one episode, while Marshall and Lily were still broken up, Marshal finds a new guy friend in a similar situation and they get the idea to do things together that the would normally only be allowed to do with girlfriends, like having brunch. Marshall gets much teasing from the rest of the gang and he eventually gets uncomfortable with how much this feels like a real relationship. Yet at the end when the other guy gets back with his girlfriend, Marshall is hurt as though he'd been cheated on or dumped.
    "Let's brunch out Bro-Style."
  • Boy Meets World did a non-stop torrent of jokes in later seasons about Cory and Shawn acting like couple. There was a break-up episode which revolved around this premise, Cory's fiancee Topanga admitted that she knew Cory loved Shawn more than her, Cory wished Shawn was there the night he lost his virginity... There was also a lot between Jack and Eric.
  • Shawn and Gus in Psych act like an old married couple CONSTANTLY and apparently can't spend more than an hour apart without repeated phone calls. Shawn likes to pretend they really are in a relationship around other people because it makes Gus incredibly uncomfortable.
  • Rizzoli & Isles plays into this trope with the title characters more and more with each passing season. The writers seem to take some sort of perverse delight in making the two seem like an old married couple, then swerve into talking about their relationships with men (or sometimes while talking about their relationships with men).
  • In the Babylon 5 episode (5x4): "A View from the Gallery", a workman having listened to G'Kar and Londo bickering wonders aloud, "So, how long do you figure they’ve been married?"
  • This trope may be the reason Supernatural keeps getting renewed. Sam and Dean constantly bicker like a married couple, Castiel spends a huge proportion of his screen time just staring at Dean, and the secondary characters are constantly make jokes about Dean's "boyfriends". In season 6, Lisa gives Dean a speech about how bizarrely close the two brothers are, and how she knew their relationship was over the minute Dean found out that Sam was still alive. In one episode, Sam and Dean attend a Supernatural convention, which mentions a panel named "the Homoerotic Subtext of Supernatural". The guy who plays Castiel merrily confirmed the Ho Yay as intentional.
  • Doctor Who:
    • Several of the Sylvester McCoy-era stories include homoerotic subtext between many of the minor characters as part of the series' turn towards the political during this time, although it generally didn't directly involve the main cast. In particular, "The Curse of Fenric" and especially "The Happiness Patrol" contain significant subplots as allegories for queer rights.
    • The running case of Ace and her Girl of the Week in several episodes, including "The Curse of Fenric", and "Survival", the latter of which was intentional on the author's part and even censored a bit by the BBC.
    • The new series delights in this, occasionally taking it right into homoeroticism. The friendship between the Eleventh Doctor and Craig is the best example played to the letter, to the point where they get Mistaken for Gay by everybody.
    • Whilst the Doctor/Master Foe Yay has always existed, Scream of the Shalka and the Tenth Doctor episodes took it further than it had ever been. Paul Cornell confirmed that the Doctor and the android Master were an item in Scream of the Shalka, while Russell T Davies has confirmed on multiple times that he believes the two to be almost soul mates, which is part of what makes it so tragic. Steven Moffat has also admitted to shipping them, going so far as to get them together at the end of the parody Doctor Who: The Curse of Fatal Death, after the Doctor regenerates into a woman, and to have them kiss in the main series story "Dead Water"/"Death In Heaven" after the Master regenerates into a women.
  • The BBC's Sherlock has enough of this that it's been lampshaded since the first episode, when one of the two main characters thought the other was hitting on him and their landlady assumed they were a couple. Later episodes see John Watson repeatedly telling secondary characters that he isn't gay, and he does, indeed, date women.
  • Often played for laughs on Blue Mountain State, a show notable for its use of Testosterone Poisoning as well. Thad has a penchant for finding ways to get the team naked and subjecting them to sadistic things, often as a part of hazing, or just for reasons that only make sense to him. One player mistakenly thinks he is being invited to a threesome with the coach and his wife and after some agonizing decides to go for it, and not just to have a shot at the wife.
    Thad: Harmon, before you got that dick pic, how much of your day was spent thinking about Coach in a sexual way?
    Harmon: One percent, tops.
    Thad: Now?
    Harmon: He's the only person I've thought about sexually in the last eight hours.
  • A Running Gag in Angel is that the title character is often Mistaken for Gay, but when rival vampire Spike joins Team Angel in Season 5 the Ho Yay goes off the scale. This is lampshaded in the DVD Commentary for "Destiny".
    "They're always up for a little homoeroticism — David and James."
    "I think this was the scene when Joss Whedon saw it shot he said, "Why don't they kiss already?"
  • Troy and Abed from Community, and everybody knows it. To the point where, when Troy starts dating Britta, Abed is referred to as her "boyfriend's boyfriend". And when Abed starts spending time with a new friend, Troy becomes jealous and goes "all psycho girlfriend on him", in the words of Britta while she is on a date with Troy.
  • Eastbound & Down—The ongoing relationship between Kenny and Stevie is a terrific parody of a romantic relationship, Kenny being the (over)dominant personality and Stevie being the emotionally sensitive one.
  • Xena: Warrior Princess has the famous, beloved relationship between Xena and Gabrielle, which had everything (including multiple on-screen kisses) short of explicit confirmation that they were a couple. The writers proceeded to then ramp up the subtext even further in the final seasons.
  • While Buffy the Vampire Slayer has a canon lesbian character with Willow it still got in quite a bit of this trope too, namely in Buffy and Willow's friendship (before she came out) and Buffy and Faith's intense, emotionally charged rivalry. The guys sometimes got in on it too, with writer Jane Espenson confirming that Giles and Ethan were written like ex-boyfriends.
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Chief O'Brien and Dr Bashir, who are also Vitriolic Best Buds. Starts when Miles is venting to Julian about his wife, Julian understands and Miles says "exactly why can't my wife be more like-" and cuts himself off realizing what he was about to say. In an episode years later, they both admit that while they love their spouses/girlfriends, they like each other a little bit more.
  • Grimm: Nick and Monroe, to the point where some fans think that the latter's courtship of Rosalee was just to emphasize that Monroe was NOT gay.
  • Lt. Malcolm Reed from Star Trek: Enterprise with Captain Archer, Commander Tucker, and Major Hayes.
  • Kirk and Spock from Star Trek: The Original Series have so much that they're the Trope Namer for Slash Fic. Later, in an infamous footnote to the novelisation of Star Trek: The Motion Picture, Gene Roddenberry coined a Vulcan word specifically to describe the relationship between Kirk and Spock; "t'hy'la" is defined to mean "friend/brother/lover". When asked about the possibility of a romantic relationship between Kirk and Spock, Roddenberry explicitly compared their relationship to that of Alexander the Great and Hephaestion, then said:
    Roddenberry: We certainly believed the affection was sufficient for [a romantic relationship], if that were the particular style of the 23rd century.
  • Game of Thrones invokes quite possibly the most nightmarish example ever between Theon Greyjoy/"Reek" and Ramsay Snow, who tortured Theon so horribly that he now doesn't even remember his former identity. This is done while Ramsay is gently bathing him no less.
    Ramsay: Do you love me Reek?
    Theon/"Reek": Yes, of course my Lord.
    Ramsay: [Slasher Smile] Good.
  • Scream Queens (2015) featured a considerable amount of this between Chad and Brock in Season 2. Chad corners him in the shower in a Ho Yay charged confrontation that becomes a Failed Attempt at Drama when Chad - who is also fully nude - realises "I think our wieners just touched". The episode after that featured a similar scene where Chad once again cornered Brock naked in the shower room, this time noticing that their "wieners" were symmetrical.
  • Once Upon a Time has a shocking amount of Foe Yay between Emma and Regina, that eventually turns into straight up Les Yay when the latter makes a Heel–Face Turn. The first half of Season 4 has Emma attempting to rebuild her friendship with Regina, in pretty much the same way a lover would. One episode has a flashback to Emma's childhood about a friendship that went south - said friendship being incredibly charged with romantic undertones - and it's paralleled to Emma's current stance with Regina. The fact that Regina is the adoptive mother of Emma's son Henry has led to a couple of jokes about Henry having two mothers, which is certainly no coincidence. It's by far the most popular ship on the show, named 'Swan Queen'.
    • The fact of Henry having two mothers has by now become canon. It has even been referred to multiple times by the characters themselves.


  • Hello Cheeky took great delight in this trope...which is a bit strange, since two of the four main characters were married.
    Barry: Oh, Denis, don't get upset. I do love you when you're angry...but don't get upset.
  • Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me!'s 09/05/15 show parodied this (mocking Kentucky county clerk Kim Davis) when Peter Sagal said he and Bill Kurtis were going to go down to the county courthouse to get married, and then have the wedding reception at the county jail. (They're both straight in real life.)

  • A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder includes an entire song between Henry and Monty, "Bettter With A Man," full of wordplay and visual innuendo that deliberately evokes this.
    '''When a fellow needs a little helping hand/ Who'll be there? It's almost guaranteed/ No one else could ever really understand/ Only another man knows what you need/ And when a man has fallen down upon his knees/ In such a moment who'd be better than/ Someone who's self-controlled/ Someone who's strong and bold/ Someone as good as gold/ It's better with a man.

    Video Games 
  • In Disgaea 4, Fenrich is possessive enough of Valvatorez that Fuka wonders if he's gay for the vampire in question. He never says he isn't. This only increases with the Tyrant Valvetorz Flashback DLC.
  • Advanced V.G. II: In the second story mode cutscene, Tamao fantasizes about holding hands with her role model, Yuka Takeuchi... while they're naked; complete with Love Bubbles and a flowery background. Then gushes and giggles about it (seen from 0:27-1:00).
  • Jin Kisaragi of BlazBlue has a disturbing fixation upon his older brother, Ragna the Bloodedge. On the one hand, Word of God has it that Jin is straight, in love with Tsubaki Yayoi and cannot conceive how his feelings for his brother could ever be interpreted by others as romantic in nature. On the other hand, the guys over at Arc System Works are also having WAAAYYY too much fun abusing Ragna's Butt Monkey status by upping the subtext to nigh-canonical levels.
  • In Grand Theft Auto V, Michael and Trevor's relationship borders on this. Throw in Rule of Funny and you get gems like:
    Michael: So you're taking me on a date, and you forgot your car, T?
  • Leon Powalski from Star Fox has a dialog with Panther when Wolf performs a secret taunt in the Lylat Cruise stage in Super Smash Bros. Brawl. This gives a rather interesting view to the character.
    Panther: A skirmish... Just the place for a bunch of space drifters like ourselves.
    Leon: Star Wolf is really giving it his all otu there. I'm more than a bit envious of him. Those razor-sharp claws. Those keen fangs. He moves wildly and fights with the spirit of a warrior possessed! Any prey he sets his eye on is doomed to be shredded to pieces!
    Panther: Umm... Leon? Are you feeling all right?
    Leon: Yes, of course! Fine! Just fine. Haa ha haaaaa ha haaahaaa...
    Panther: Set me straight here Leon. Are you envious of the shred-DER or the shred-DEE?
  • Metal Gear:
  • Although Mass Effect has several canon same-gender romance options, Shepard can get extremely close to most of the characters s/he can romance (and a few s/he can't) regardless of gender, their interactions playing out much the same way even if an explicit romance isn't an option, especially Ashley, Kaidan, Garrus, Tali, and Miranda. Some of this has to do with cut content; Ashley and Kaidan were originally planned to be romance options regardless of Shepard's gender in Mass Effect, and a romance route for Tali and FemShep was scrapped for Mass Effect 2, the lingering effects of which can still be seen (Kaidan at least became a romance option for MaleShep as well as FemShep in Mass Effect 3).
  • Star Ocean: Till the End of Time vaguely implies that Nel and Clair may be an item. Clair often concerns herself with Nel's safety, such as when Nel went to the Kirlsa Facility on her own in order to rescue her two subordinates, Tynave and Farleen, and when she returns with them, Clair and Nel share a prolonged embrace (seen at 4:00-4:20). The manga version of the scene isn't as subtle; when they hug this time, they're shown blushing and staring into each other's eyes, while Fayt and Cliff watch in the background, until Cliff finally has to clear his throat to break them up.

    Visual Novels 
  • Nasuverse:
    • Issei and Shirou in Fate/stay night. Shirou notices occasionally and is kind of bothered, though Issei seems oblivious as to how his behavior appears. As of Fate/hollow ataraxia, even the other students at their school notice it, mentally including Issei as part of the harem surrounding Shirou.
    • While Fate/Zero proper is quiet on the homoerotic tension between some of the Masters and their Servants, the Einzbern Consultation Room shorts are anything but.
    Zecchan: The fanfic for those twonote  is going to be so hot.
  • Charlotte and Mary in Shikkoku No Sharnoth. The series is extremely fond of highly ambiguous writing and portraying non sexual things in a sexual manner, so Charlotte's yandere devotion to Mary is probably not romantic. But damn is it hard not read it that way.
  • Katawa Shoujo is rife with this in Shizune's, Lilly's and Hanako's routes, to the point of Threesome Subtext. Early on Shizune and Misha are established as almost literally attached at the hip before the reveal that Misha really is in love with Shizune, while Lilly and Hanako have the closest, caring, most emotional relationship out of anyone in the cast. Even if he's currently dating one of them, Hisao regularly acknowledges that the girls have a bond that he will likely never understand.
  • DRAM Atical Murder manages to fit this into the common route between Aoba and Koujaku, with Koujaku constantly fussing over Aoba and generally acting like an overprotective boyfriend. In Koujaku's route it's revealed that he's been in love with Aoba since long before the game began.

    Web Comics 
  • Ja Wangnan and Nya Nia from Tower of God. Ja keeps commenting on how feminine Nia looks, has quite a few scenes with him, they share a roomnote  and Nia's number is saved under "My Beloved Nia~♥♥". Subtle. Ja Wangnan does not take his death well, which in a society where you can die at any time and already seen countless deaths, means quite abit.
  • Fans interpretation of Charizard and Clefable's relationship in 151 Hidden Depths.
  • Black and White from Grey is..., their relationship has a lot of this. They bicker like a married couple and have no problem showing affection for each other.
  • Vinnie and Rabbit from Skins. They bicker constantly and argue Like an Old Married Couple.

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • In Avatar: The Last Airbender, the subtext and Ship Tease between Aang/Zuko, Sokka/Zuko, Katara/Toph, Roku/Sozin, and Azula/Ty Lee, among other couples, is completely deliberate on the part of the writers, between Word of God and in-show Lampshade Hanging. The writers are very fandom-savvy, and at least half of the Ho Yay in the show was intentional.
  • Korra and Asami in The Legend of Korra start to develop this from Season 3 onward (after they resolve the Romantic Plot Tumor with Mako), becoming more warm towards and supportive of each other than anyone else in the Krew, frequently working almost in synch, having many emotional intimate moments, and the final scene of the show is them going into the Republic City Spirit Portal on a vacation together, holding hands with a Held Gaze, in a scene that mirrors the end scene of the "Legend of Aang" where Aang and Katara have their Big Damn Kiss, both visually and musically. Word of God confirms that this was completely intentional, that "Korrasami is canon", and that this was a way to get around Nickelodeon's S & P.
  • The Simpsons:
    • Lenny and Carl. There have been a few jokes about this, of course.
    Lenny: [seeing Homer and Marge kissing] Remember when we used to kiss like that... with our respective girlfriends?
    Wiggum: Lou, you can't leave the force! I can change!
    Lou: I just think there's more money in private security.
    Wiggum: What I'm hearing is I'm too fat! [Eats a sundae between sobs]
    • One episode brought Chief Wiggum and Homer together. There was a falling out between them when Wiggum became too needy but they kind of make up by the end.
    • While Smithers would obviously prefer his relationship with Mr. Burns to be something different, the show often offered such jokes about their relationship earlier on.
    • One episode had Apu and Snake seeing a therapist, acting like a married couple:
    Apu: He used to rob me 2-3 times a week. Now, I'm lucky if I get it once a month.
    Snake: He never initiates it. I have to do all the work. He just stands there...
    Therapist: Now, now, don't talk through him. Talk to him.
    Snake: (sighs) Apu, sometimes when I rob you, it's like you're not even there.
    Apu: That is because you are robbing my brother Sanjay!
    Snake: Dude, I didn't know...
    Apu: Oh, just shut up!
  • South Park has many jokes concerning Stan and Kyle's deep friendship. And even when it's not part of a joke, a lot of their deeper moments simply reek of Ho Yay.
  • Phineas and Ferb:
    • Buford and Baljeet, up to having an episode about them titled "Bully Bromance Breakup", complete with breakup song.
    • Doofenshmirtz and Perry the Platypus constantly have their Friendly Enemy status played like a dysfunctional couple, the epitome of which was Doof having an "affair" with another secret agent, Peter the Panda. One episode had Peter's nemesis try and get revenge on Dr. D. for the incident, acting like a jealous boyfriend. Doof even gives him relationship advice.
  • Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy from Batman: The Animated Series. In the episode where their partnership was formed, they walk around Ivy's secluded trailer in nothing but dress shirts and underwear and constantly talk about how men are worthless, and in later episodes they share an apartment and continue to walk around in rather skimpy clothing (when Harley is not with the Joker). A later episode has the (scantily-clad) Ivy pushing the (scantily-clad) Harley down onto their hotel room's (single) bed with a pillow, at which point the scene abruptly ends. Word of God is that Harley and Ivy are indeed in such a relationship, off and on.
  • Adventure Time:
    • Lemongrab and his clone, Lemongrab 2. They live together, have babies together, nuzzle when naked, and even hug when naked. They act like a married couple, and Princess Bubblegum said she had created Lemongrab 2 for Lemongrab "to be with," in a rather suggestive voice. And then in "Too Old" Lemongrab eats Lemongrab 2.
    • Bubblegum and Marceline have all the signs of ex-girlfriends who had a nasty break-up but still want to get back together, starting in "What Was Missing" and expanded on in "Sky Witch", the comics, and Marceline and the Scream Queens. Word of God is that they did use to date, but the threat of Moral Guardians means this will likely never be acknowledged in the show.
  • Time Squad lived and breathed this trope, with Larry and Buck firmly established as Otto's parents, though it pretty much became more "text" and less "subtext" around season two.
  • The shorts featuring Ace and Gary (aka "The Ambiguously Gay Duo") from Saturday Night Live were riddled with this, and lampshaded constantly by everyone who saw them in action.
  • Steven Universe has this with nearly every combination of the gems, helped along by there being an actual lesbian couple (Ruby and Sapphire) and gem fusion being an allegory for relationships (not necessarily romantic, but easily interpretable as such).
    • Aside from Pearl and Garnet acting likes Steven's mothers (including arguing about parenting strategies), Pearl is near-constantly sidling up to, latching on to, or clinging to Garnet, and is desperate to fuse with her; just a demonstration of the dance is enough for Pearl to throw her head back with her mouth open and blushing. When they do fuse in season 2 they blatantly flirt and have a dance that's almost erotic, and it results in a multi-episode arc about how much they love being together, but because Pearl is too dependent she lies to get closer to Garnet, who is furious and hurt at the betrayal.
    • Pearl and Amethyst have a dynamic near-identical to every Belligerent Sexual Tension couple out there. An Odd Couple that couldn't be more different, they frequently get into arguments over the tiniest things and get on each others' nerves constantly, but in serious or intense situations they prove that they truly, deeply care for the other and can be amazingly supportive and caring when they put aside their differences, most directly shown in "On The Run".
    • Everything is done to imply that Pearl was in love with Rose, with Pearl having one hell of a Subordinate Excuse that saw her dedicating herself completely to the other gem, and Rose making her "feel like [she] was everything". "We Need to Talk" shows Pearl's jealousy over Rose being close with Greg and they have an intensely sensual fusion, Rainbow Quartz. In "Mr. Greg", Pearl sings an emotional piano ballad about how she was always fine with the men Rose would bring home because she knew they didn't matter until Greg entered the picture. She later admits after Steven urges them to talk out their feelings that she never hated him and that Greg feels terrible because in his own words, "I knew how you felt about Rose, and I stayed anyway".
    • Lapis and Jasper fusing into Malachite is an extended metaphor for a toxic relationship, literally pulling each other down and endlessly hurting the other with their anger and pain while still unable to separate, until they're both warped into someone worse.
      • Then there's "Alone At Sea", which plays this as creepily and blatantly as possible with the abusive treatment. Lapis hates Jasper and frequently tells Steven she doesn't deserve to be happy and is a terrible person while admitting she misses Jasper. Meanwhile, Jasper has been stalking Lapis across the ocean looking for her, begging and intimidating her into fusing as Malachite again, complete with saying word-for-word "it'll be different this time! I've changed, you've changed me!" while having body language painfully accurate of husbands/wives about to hurt a spouse. While both have done terrible things to each other, Lapis was the first to be forced into making the fusion, and admits she never wants to go back to the way they were.
    • Pearl and the Mystery Girl in "Last One Out of Beach City. The whole episode emulates an 80s teen romance film, with Mysterious Girl evoking desire within the insecure protagonist, having friends who urge her to pursue her feelings, getting over her shieness, and ending with the girl giving Pearl her phone number. Amethyst is even listed as "Ultimate Wingman" at the end of the credits.
  • As Told by Ginger has Courtney Grippling inexplicably taking an interest in Ginger and constantly going out of her way to be her friend - with a few episode plots paralleling the Manic Pixie Dream Girl. Courtney's best friend Miranda also gets incredibly jealous at her interest in Ginger, making the situation look like Your Cheating Heart. Most of Miranda's antagonising of Ginger is usually out of jealousy. Word of God is that they considered having Courtney reveal she was in love with Ginger but it got an Executive Veto.

Alternative Title(s): Homo Erotic Subject, Gay Subtext, Lesbian Subtext